Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Literature Review: Q&A

This guide intends to provide students with information and advice about the literature review process

Found a citation in FindIT, but there's no full-text link?

FindIT citations often contain a DOI number

  • It will look something like this: 10.1386/rjao.10.1.7_1
  • Copy the number
  • Paste the number into the search box at
  • If the article is full-text and free, it will be available to you

Other options

Found a citation in a reference list, but can't find the publication?

  • Search for the publication in FindIT
  • If it's available in the library (in print, or online) the details will appear on screen
  • If it's a journal article you require - also try Google Scholar
  • Note: Not all articles in Google Scholar are available in full-text

Commonly asked questions

What is the difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography?

  • An annotated bibliography is a list of citations, with each one described and evaluated separately.
  • A literature review analyses themes within a subject.  It uses the references to support, describe and discuss the various themes.    


How many texts should a literature review include?

  • This can vary.  Seek advice from your lecturer.
  • Consult the assessment criteria for your subject.


How do I find better search terms?

  • Use FindIT to locate subject dictionaries (eg Dictionary of Biology; Dictionary of Science Fiction).
  • Textbooks often contain glossaries: use them to define terms, and to locate new and alternative terms.
  • Use a publication that you've already found - check the vocabulary the author has used.

Too many references?


Revise your search strategy


  • Ask yourself if there are dimensions of the subject that you've not included in the search - add them
  • Can you narrow your search to a specific location (eg Australia)?
  • Can you narrow to a particular date range (eg last five years)?
  • Can you narrow to a specific segment of the population (eg adults, women, youths)?
  • Can you narrow to a particular publication type?

Too few references?

Solution 1

One good article is the perfect starting point.  Use it to track down other similar articles.


  • Check the article's bibliography (reference list):  this may lead you to other relevant resources
  • In Google Scholar use the "cited by" link to follow up on related articles



Solution 2

Revise your search


  • Check your original search for spelling errors
  • Rethink the search terms you've used
  • Consult dictionaries, glossaries and a thesaurus to find related and alternative terms, then add them to your search
  • Separate like-terms in the search box with "or" (eg teenagers or adolescents or youths)
  • For more ideas on how to improve your search, watch the Search Strategy videos